• Jul 9th 2010 at 9:05AM
  • 11
Researchers at Washington State University have made a discovery they're calling "the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy." And if they're right, it could one day lead to super-energy-dense batteries. The process uses tools and materials that sound like things Lex Luthor or a Bond villian might have laying around in the basement.

Ever heard of a diamond anvil, for instance? A diamond anvil is apparently a tiny chamber in which incredibly high pressures can be created. So, the WSU researchers put some xenon difluoride inside a diamond anvil and cranked the pressure up to a million atmospheres. What happened next was really cool. The molecules of the xenon difluoride started clustering up under the tremendous pressure.

We're picturing a bunch of dominoes lying on a kitchen table that are suddenly pushed together into a pile. That may not be entirely accurate, but bear with us. Where the potential battery tech comes into play is in that new, bunched-up domino compound. All the mechanical energy from the squishing gets converted into chemical energy stored in the bonds between the jammed-up molecules.

We're not sure how much energy it takes to crush xenon difluoride versus how much energy it holds, and we're not sure how prevalent diamond anvils are, but it's a cool technology at the very least.

[Source: Popular Science]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      "We're not sure how much energy it takes to crush xenon difluoride versus how much energy it holds, and we're not sure how prevalent diamond anvils are, but it's a cool technology at the very least."

      Please take a science course. Just one. Please.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Science? In the US?

        Anywho, instead of criticizing...why don't you just explain the gaffe...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know some science and I'm not sure there are critical errors in the article.

        what is worth noting however is that the principle doesn't contain any means of getting the energy out in usable form and perhaps even more importantly it would require a very substantial and high tech containment system.
        making hydrogen storage tanks looks like birthday balloons.

        to say that it is not immediately practical is an understatement : ) but interesting anyway
      • 5 Years Ago
      Did anyone else have 'dilithium crystals' flash when reading this?
        • 5 Years Ago
        i did lol Beam me up !!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      What is the matter , They couldnt find any geekier looking guys for the picture.Future looks pretty bright for this technologie with these guy's on the case..
      • 5 Years Ago
      OH this will attact those nasty Decepticons FOR SURE !!!

      • 5 Years Ago
      The diamond anvils are sold in the same aisle as bottled unicorn urine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What Chris is referring to is known to the rest of us as an explosion. One that would release Florine gas. BAD news.

        On another note: Florine is insanely reactive, so it seems it might be 'easy' to transfer its energy from that compressed state to a bonded state through a PEM. Not certain I'd want to be anywhere near the thing, but it could work.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There really are diamond anvils, but they're very small. It is an effective technique to generate extremely high pressures, but only in a very tiny cell, only a few millimeters in diameter. It's hard to imagine it making any sort of useful energy storage that way.

        Xenon is an inert gas, only a highly reactive gas like fluorine can chemically bind to it to form xenon difluoride. The risk is that under high pressure the fluorine might react with the carbon in the diamonds as that chemical bond is much stronger. The result would be a sudden release of energy in a rather undesirable way.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Almost as good as the compressed air guys... it's no smarter than a super-doped twisted-elastic engine, but now with years of white-paper trails and doctoral thesis.
    Share This Photo X